Bernie the socialist

February 10, 2016

The meteoric rise of Bernie Sanders raises the question;can the prophetic ever be domesticated?


American politics  for decades has been hobbled by the corruption of money. This of course is a very old situation whose plight was nailed by the crucified Jewish prophet Yeshua ben Miriam, called in the west, Jesus

No man can serve two masters: for either he. will hate the one, and love the other; or else. he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 6:24

In the Disneyland of diversions( which of course includes Canada) it takes decades of people abuse before the prophetic can arise, before they can wean themselves off the 24 hr carnival of fast food diversions of Facebook, consumerism, celeb culture and other manipulations. However the latest stats from Oxfam which showed that 82 billionaires owned as much wealth as one half of humanity is a good indicator that humanity is in deep trouble.The Oxfam Davos Report also shows that his share of wealth by half of the world’s people has collapsed by over 40% in just the last five years.

Another shocking stat:

$760 billion goes annually to non-producing investors by immense transnational tax evasion with impunity across the world. It is ironic of course that Sanders is a Jew and might be channeling the prophetic,the great gift of Judaism—one does not have to be religious to do this—but simply alive to the spirit which has always accompanied humanity on its beautiful but broken trek.

With the cavalcade of clowns thrown up (pun may be intended) by the Republican Party, a bevy of political hacks  in hock to big money—Trump, Cruz Rubio, Bush et al) and the business as usual, bought and paid for Hilary Clinton, is it any wonder that Bernie is getting a hearing.


How far he can go is still up in the air but he speaks  on behalf of the(“am ha aretz) the people of the land  whom Jesus and the biblical prophets spoke for.

Another Jewish prophet Karl Marx hipped us to another fact, the cultural ideas of an epoch serve the interests of the ruling class.Those ideas provide ideologies that legitimate class domination. Whoever owns the cultural means of production —the papers, the air waves etc- produces the dominant ideas which the ordinary joe thinks are just “common sense”. Like CO2, these ideas are poisonous—competition, the market, individualism— they are simply part of the hidden reality and generally beyond criticism and like CO2 which is colourless, odorless and invisible, these ‘natural and obvious” ideas can kill a society. Humans are wired for mutuality not selfishness.

Today the Internet is partially exploding this domination of print and we have been privy to great masters of suspicion like Huxley, Orwell, Freud, Nietzsche, Hedges etc to help us unpack the bull shit floated by the corporate class.
Before the net, newspapers and radio stations played a dominant role in forming people’s world views. Now not so much. Look at the last election when most daily papers advised Canadians that Harper is best for Canada. Paul Godfrey of Post Media demanded his papers support Harper. Few people took him seriously because print is dying. After 10 years of Harper’s cynical suck up to the oil patch, his bloated military budget and mean spirited Islamophobia, people looked for the Canada we used to have and voted Harper out. Most Canadians breathed a sigh of relief.We were more “socialist” than individualist…and wouldn’t you know it, the Tories have an Ayn Rand lover Rona Ambrose as their leader.Welcome to the wilderness.


So here’s Bernie, calls himself a socialist. What the hell does that mean today?— simple the common good, sharing, dignity of all people, the environment and closing the horrendous income gap.

Another Stupor Bowl

February 8, 2016


Once again I boycotted the Stupor Bowl absolutely irrelevant to my life and to most people on the planet. Who won? Who cares? But hyped all over Canada and USA, the idol capitol of the world. Capitalism generates many idols and celebrity is one of them. Overall in Canada we seem to have a laidback attitude to a lot of the nonsense. Last night I went to my local movie house and the coach of the NBA Raptors walked out after the film Nobody recognized him and he went his merry way. I am sure he loved it.

My friend Bob a former athletic director at university told me he goes down to the old Maple Leaf Gardens where among other things there is a basketball court. And there you can watch every week Canada’s number 1 university team the Ryerson Rams. Bob told me he was down last week and they had a full house 1,000 spectators. Really, that many!

Now that’s my type of country! In the USA people would be shocked at such low numbers. We have found better things to do with our time than make idols of college athletes. Most US “colleges’ are fresh water joints where the football, basketball coach makes more than the President. So much for the priorities of universities.

Now the Stupor bowl with the cheapest ticket at $2500.
Ads cost about $4.5 million for 30 seconds to hype stuff you don’t really need.

I liked what Kutter Callaway of Fuller Theological Seminarywrote “The NFL is, in a real sense, our civic religion. It has Sunday worship services, mid-week Thursday celebrations, patron saints (Hall of Famers), and a liturgical calendar that begins with the NFL draft (in April) and ends with the Super Bowl (in February).”

Prophets come to Forum

February 4, 2016

Can Forum possibly contain two Catholic prophets?
It is beyond felicity, synchronicity or sheer good fortune and it’s no joke that it is occurring on April Fool’s Day. But it is happening. A Catholic embarrassment of riches to be sure.
Quite possibly the two greatest prophetic voices in contemporary catholicism are joiningi forces at Forum this year.
Forum is the brainchild of the Liverpool born Catholic John Quinn who has never stopped believing that the catholic church should be be what it promised 50 years ago at Vatican ll, “ecclesia semper reformanda”, a church which always need to update itself.

And so Diarmuid Omurchu and Sister Joan Chittister are coming this year. Omurchu is the Irish-born social scientist member of the Sacred Heart Missionary Order whose books have kept alive the progressive spirit of Vatican ll during the ice age of Catholicism under John Paul ll and Benedict XVl. This quote gives you a flavor of Omurchu’s candid assessment of this moment in ecclesial history.
We have come a long way from the fiery prophetic figure Jesus of Nazareth who shocked and disturbed the conventions of his day in the name of justice and liberation. Our respectability has taken a terrible toll on the authentic calling of Christian life.We have lost sight of the deeper vision and lost heart for the passion and enthusiasm of God’s New Reign. The following of Jesus is not a respectable religion.

Sr Joan Chittister is the brilliant Benedictine nun whose faith-filled writings reflect the Magdalene moment in the Catholic Church. We have moved beyond the Petrine moment and even that of Paul. It is time to listen to the Magdalene moment, the feminist voice which includes the ecological, prophetic and sacramental.

In 2001, the Vatican forbade Chittister to speak on discipleship at a women’s ordination conference in Ireland. Supported by her Prioress and Benedictine community Chittister spoke anyway and the Vatican backed down on its threats.

“You cannot order Catholics not to think,” she said in an interview recalling that confrontation with church authority. “I remember thinking then, ‘You can’t scare me.’”

For Chittister, the role of women raises “theological, scientific, sociological and human questions that you cannot stop thinking about. You have to open the door to the conversation in the name of the integrity of your theology.”

The Canadian Forum on Theology and Education April 1 and 2 ( has the privilege of hosting Chittister and O’Murchu working publicly together for the first time when they present Evolution and the Spiritual Life: Exploring changing images of God and the Implications for daily life and spirituality at St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic Conference Centre, 300 River Oaks Blvd. East, Oakville, Ontario, L6H5T1

Register online at or contact John Quinn at or 905-934-9115

Jews Say No to biased reporting pt 1

February 3, 2016

A Palestinian village has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Israel is throwing open its doors to refugees. Those were some of the headlines that appeared in a fake version of The New York Times distributed across New York City on Tuesday Feb 2.

Congress to Debate U.S. Aid to Israel

Don’t hold your breath on this one!
Mayor De Blasio Confronts Islamophobia Following Trip to Israel

DeBlasio is hopeless on Israel’s occuupation

Now it is always nice to see resistance movements adding humour to their arsenal. This spoof was brilliant.

The 120,000 copies were distributed by progressive Jewish groups Jews Say No and Jewish Voice for Peace. Both called out the hopeless one sided bias of “the paper of record” The New York Times(NYT) for its truly blinkered coverage of Israel/Palestine. Not that the NYT is alone in its blindness.The Washington Post, the Beltway bible and several other papers have been lying for decades on this issue.

The NYT is particularly egregious actually posing pro-israel correspondents like Ethan Bonner and Jodi Rudoren as bureau chiefs. If that wasn’t enough you add David Brooks who actually had children in the Israel defense Forces(IDF) penning regular columns without disclosing his bias. Then you had the truly awful Tom Friedman opining regularly.

The paper carried the slogan “All the news we didn’t print.” The prank copy of the revered “Gray Lady” also announced Democratic presidential candidate “Hilarity Clifton” planned to quit the presidential race to head up a women’s nonprofit based in Ramallah. Clinton is in the pocket of American Jewish billionaire Haim Saban whose politics is summed up by himself: “I have one issue: Israel.”

The activists, under the name The New York Times, sent an email out to reporters across the country titled “NYT Announces New Editorial Policy: Rethinking Our Coverage of Israel-Palestine.”

Remember that both the NYT and the Washington Post apologized for cheerleading the disastrous war in Iraq.

A piece attributed to a fake Times editorial board admits that its “sense of fairness has been absent in our paper’s coverage of ongoing conditions in Israel and Palestine.” It notes that the real Times regularly portrays Palestinians, but not Israelis, as instigators of violence, and uses much harsher language language to describe Palestinian acts of violence.
A piece attributed to a fake Times editorial board admits that its “sense of fairness has been absent in our paper’s coverage of ongoing conditions in Israel and Palestine.” It notes that the real Times regularly portrays Palestinians, but not Israelis, as instigators of violence, and uses much harsher language language to describe Palestinian acts of violence

“In addition, we are aware that a disproportionate number of our news stories in the past year and a half have focused on Israeli government statements and positions or the views of Israeli Jewish citizens; only a small fraction have featured Palestinian speakers, whether officials and advocates or residents who experience the effects of Israeli policies in everyday life,” the fictitious editorial states


The front page features a large graphic that illustrates how the U.S. gives significantly more military aid to Israel than it does to any other country, at the sum of $3.1 billion per year.

The third Berrigan

February 1, 2016

They lowered the flag in Syracuse when Jerry Berrigan died.


Few outside the nuclear resistance committee knew Jerry Berrigan and his great wife Carol. Yet the “third Berrigan” and Carol were constant resisters to the militarization of the United States.Thanks to Ellen Grady-DeMott of the Ithaca Catholic Worker for the heads up


Jerry Berrigan, the eldest of the activist brothers Dan and Phil, died on July 26, 2015 at the age of 95, Berrigan served in the U.S. Army for three years during World War II. He later attended College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass, and studied to join the Josephites order which ministered to poor blacks in the US south. He left the seminary and earned his college degree at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.He retired in 2002 after 35 years of teaching English and writing composition at Onondaga Community College. He was active with Syracuse-area Catholic Worker activities, including jail ministry and Unity Acres, a men’s shelter.

Jerry came to the Hancock drone base on a bi-weekly basis whenever he was able. In Jerry’s words, “to remind the base commander of our government’s pledge under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a treaty to safeguard non-combatant’s well-being in any warzone in which U.S. forces are engaged in combat.” And further, “to register horror and indignation at reports of bombing missions by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan which resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians; men, women and children.”

Throughout his life in the Syracuse area Berrigan participated in many protests against war, the death penalty, homelessness, civil rights and the School of Americas training program at the Fort Benning, Ga., Army base.

“I take the promise of non-violence seriously as any contributor to turning the world to a Christian way would,” he told the Syracuse Catholic Sun in 2010. “The lesson learned is the need to treat everyone lovingly and equally. Everyone deserves that by reason of their humanity, by reason of their being a child of God.

Berrigan is survived by Carol, his wife of 60 years; four children; five grandchildren; and his brother, Carla Berrigan, the youngest of his four children, said she remembers her uncles Dan and Phil visiting when she was young. “They would sit in the living room in a circle and would tell stories about their activism and their childhood,” she said. “Their laughter shook the house.”

He modeled “a sense of justice for everybody in the world,” she said. Retired Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Costello, who met Berrigan in the 1950s, called him a prophet and a peacemaker. “Each time he was arrested was a prophetic statement,” Costello said. “He challenged all of us. I think that was part of his ministry.”

Berrigan’s legacy is simple, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner Monday ordered the flag at City Hall lowered to half-mast in recognition of  Berrigan’s impact on the community.

Episcopal silence in Flint

January 30, 2016

There’s a shocking story brewing in Flint,Michigan.The facts are well known and even the major news outlets are covering it.Leave it to Flint native Michael Moore to get to the truth.

Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the people of Flint from their fresh water drinking source, Lake Huron, and instead, make the public drink from the toxic Flint River. When the governor’s office discovered just how toxic the water was, they decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint’s residents, most notably the lead affecting the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage. Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

How does this governor keep his job?


Moore lays out 10 things the media wont trell you,”but i will.” And Moore like the good investigator digs in.It’s all onhis  website…a brief summary

While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water.

For Just $100 a Day, This Crisis Could’ve Been Prevented.

There’s More Than the Lead in Flint’s Water.

People’s Homes in Flint Are Now Worth Nothing Because They Cant Be Sold. Would you buy a house in Flint right now? Who would?

While They Were Being Poisoned, They Were Also Being Bombed.

The Wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff Is a Spokeswoman for Nestle, Michigan’s Largest Owner of Private Water Reserves.

In Michigan, from Flint water, to Crime and Murder, to GM Ignition Switches, It’s a Culture of Death.

You might expect the Catholic Church to be enraged over the profanation of and abuse of water, a key sacrament in the church’s life.

The bishop of  Lansing’s response? Abstract nonsense, a total flight from history, a denial of incarnation.

Earl Boyea, the less than prophetic bishop:

“The City of Flint has undergone many trials in recent years. Often, its people have faced the temptation to lose hope, to surrender to despair. The water crisis again presents that temptation, but again the answer must be to find strength in the love of God and the support of men and women of good will.”

He went on to ask for prayers for the people of Flint, for “a season of peace” and that “crime and violence abate.”

Where’s the outrage? Prayer without action is irrelevant.

Half of Flint’s population is black and pretty poor. half are below the poverty line. You would like at several levels this bishop would speak some truth to power, join the people in their resistance to this shocking abuse of both power and nature. But not Earl Boyea, named a bishop by JP ll in 2002.

Now you know what Pope Francis is up against.



Killing the King

January 27, 2016

Many in Israel and the Jewish diaspora are reading a new book Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan’s been 20 year since the assassination of the Israeli PM, Yitzhak Rabin.


The villain in the book is convicted assassin, Yigal Amir, who was a student of law at Bar-Ilan university near Tel aviv, a school with religious Zionist roots.

Though not strictly Orthodox in orientation, it attracts mainly conservative Jews to its campus. It has had a hard time living down its relationship to Amir, the fanatical true believer who is serving a life sentence for his ugly handiwork.

During the last war crime in Gaza (2014) Hanoch Sheinman, a philosophy professor at the law school sent an e-mail to his second year law students expressing sympathy for all victims in Gaza. On the surface a minimal act of concern. But not so fast,herr professor. The law school dean, Shachar Lifshits upbraided Sheinman whom he said “contravened the values of the university and the law faculty … This constitutes the inappropriate use of the power given to a lecturer to exploit the platform given to him as a law teacher … that … seriously offended the students and their families.”

Another take was that of Stanford prof Steven J. Zipperstein, who teaches Jewish Culture and History:
“There is no reason to doubt that Lifshits is telling the truth when he says that Sheinman’s e-mail offended. And that’s the problem. That he then goes on to say that the sentiments expressed in it conflict with the values of his university, an institution inspired by religious convictions, chills one’s bones. And this from an institution, indeed a law school, that ought to be keenly attuned to what an inability to empathize with basic human rights can result in. Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, was a law student in November 1995 at the time he murdered the prime minister.”

Zipperstein notes that, “Never before in an Israeli military conflict has the mere expression of empathy for Arab civilian dead and wounded been seen, beyond the political fringe, as akin to betrayal … Sheinman’s dean has asked him to apologize. But it’s Lifshits who ought to offer an apology …”

No comment need be made here other than witnessing the erosion of humanitarian impulses, the failure to see the Other as a human being

Davey Keon, the humble warrior

January 24, 2016

So the Toronto Maple Leafs brought back Davie Keon to honour him with a statue along with Turk Broda and Timmy Horton..Dave was the only one still living so he got a huge round of applause from Toronto fans who remember him as a class act who was treated shabbily by the former Leaf management of Harold Ballard. I watched the pre-game interview with him  and he was as understated as he always was, appreciative of the honour but still a little bit embarrassed

It brought me back to a cold winter night in 1957 at the old Gardens, the home that Smythe built. In those days the players on the Toronto junior teams, St.Mike’s and Marlies all had passes to the NHL games and this night I was standing in the Blues with David. He had his pass from the Leafs and I had borrowed one from either Jack McMaster or Bobby Savage who both played for the majors. Davey was then captain of the junior B team,the Buzzers.
As we watched the warm up, Keon nudged me and he pointed out number 15 on the Leafs, a clever centre named Billy “Hinky”  Harris.

“See that guy, Ted” ?

“I am going to have his job one day.’”

This was a simple matter of fact statement. Dave was never a self-promoter. He was raised very well by his parents and always exhibited a lot of humility. Yet he had much confidence in his own ability.

At this time Dave was just coming into his own as great skater and thanks to Fr.Dave Bauer’s tutelage. a fantastic two way player, in other words a great checker. And that was Billy Harris’s weakness as an NHL player. Billy was a lovely man but he was simply not the two way player Dave was, either offensively or defensively. Davey scored almost 400 NHL goals and Billy had 125. If you wanted to play in a tough 6 team league, you needed to be good defensively. David was superb.
Sure enough in little more than 2 years Dave had taken Billy Harris’s job and went on to a stellar career.
Keon returns each year from Florida to play in a golf tournament of old St.Mike’s guys and it’s old home week with friends he feels comfortable with. And he always asks for my brother Don.

Staggering civilian death toll in Iraq – UN report*

January 23, 2016

Just more statistics with no tears showing.

Even now it seems inconceivable to rational people that such a talentless man like  GW Bush could have attained the American presidency. celebrity and name recognition goes a long way in the United States of Amnesia.But there was the shameless palin showing up next to Trump.

United Nations Human Rights — Office of the High Commissioner*


BAGHDAD/GENEVA (19 January 2016) – A UN report released today details the severe and extensive impact on civilians of the ongoing conflict in Iraq, with at least 18,802 civilians killed and another 36,245 wounded between 1
January 2014 and 31 October 2015. Another 3.2 million people have been internally displaced since January 2014, including more than a million children of school age.

Of the total number of casualties, at least 3,855 civilians were killed and 7,056 wounded between 1 May and 31 October last year – the period covered by the report, although the actual figures could be much higher than those documented. About half of these deaths took place in Baghdad.

War 2

The report, compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is based largely on testimony obtained directly from the victims, survivors or witnesses of violations of international human rights or international humanitarian law,including interviews with internally displaced people.

“The violence suffered by civilians in Iraq remains staggering. The so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) continues to commit systematic and widespread violence and abuses of international human rights law and humanitarian law. These acts may, in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide,” the report states.
War 3

MLK, Gandhi and Mandela

January 19, 2016

I taught Marty Chan 40 years ago and the bugger shows up again in my life. In our wired world you can’t hide anywhere these days.and why would I, a teacher who always enjoyed dialoguing with his students, long after he/she sat in my class. Now Marty is in Melbourne and he asked me if I still had Martin Luther King Jr’s picture prominently displayed. Indeed I do. MLK was my hero, the Christian who put the gospel on the street, the brother who held a mirror up to his racist society and like his Lord paid the ultimate price. And dead at 39.


Now the USA honours the doc by granting a holiday on the 3rd Monday of each year. We forget how prophetic King really was.Most have no memory of his famous Riverside speech of April 4,1967 when with the Vietnam war raging he called his own country the greatest purveyor of violence in the was approaching spiritual death. many blacks did not like that, telling MLK to stick to civil rights.King rightly told them the gospel is indivisible.he made all the connections…the bombs falling in Nam were exploding in in poor black and white neighbourhoods. Even LBJ understood that you can’t have guns and butter. Same today. With the outrageously bloated American defence budget and with military bases in 63 countries, Uncle Sam is still buying too many guns and not enough butter.

Gandhi P

Were MLK alive today, like his heroes Nelson Mandela and Gandhi he would certainly be defending the oppressed Palestinians of Israel. He would have agreed with agreed with the editorial of the feisty New York weekly Leader-Observer’ of October 15,2000

If Palestinians were black, Israel would now be a pariah state subject to economic sanctions led by the United States. Its development and settlement of the West Bank would be seen as a system of apartheid, in which the indigenous population was allowed to live in a tiny fraction of its own country, in self-administered ‘bantustans’, with ‘whites’ monopolizing the supply of water and electricity. And just as the black population was allowed into South Africa’s white areas in disgracefully under-resourced townships, so Israel’s treatment of Israeli Arabs – flagrantly discriminating against them in housing and education spending – would be recognized as scandalous too.


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